Unpacking A European Parliament Scandal: A Belgian Judge Charade?
A judicial investigation had rocked Europe in December last year and sent shockwaves to Europe involving plausible bribery implicating MEPs on the charge of receiving huge sums of money and gifts from a Gulf state. The “Persian Gulf country” was arguably plotting to influence the political and economic decisions of the European Parliament, an issue that had garnered bandwidth across Belgium and the EU.
Qatar was charged with the accusation of channeling money to cultivate a positive image of the country. However, the Qatari government unequivocally denied any engagement in the scandal and stated that any accusation of misconduct is unfounded and contrived. Qatar imputed the blame on its regional adversaries for plotting the scandal. Analysts cautioned about a smear campaign launched against Qatar aimed at maligning the image of Qatar when the country attracted global attention for hosting the football world cup. The media reaction was exaggerated and transmitted conclusions without full investigation nor proof.
The Qatar and EU Parliament so-called incident raised much uproar in the political sphere and media in Belgium. However, it has been proven to be a travesty staged solely to accrue gains by a Belgian judge– infamous for his unabashed judicial populism. The much-vaunted scandal unpacks the arbitrariness of the judicial and police powers. Under the cloak of judicial independence, the judge, Michel Claise, was asked to be removed due to a conflict of interest.
Marc Tarabella’s lawyer had requested in February that the investigating judge, Claise, be recused on the grounds that Michel Claise could be “biased” towards the MEP.
If such arbitrary power is bestowed to a judge unconstrained by any restraints, these powers are destined to be exploited to serve the parochial interests. The EU Parliament scandal is a glaring display of how judicial power can be weaponized to serve parochial interests.Forner anti-corruption judge, Renaud Van Ruymbeke , even questioned how so much cash could be “found” in several suitcases; it would take a pretty hidden bank to not sound the alarm.
The investigation into the Members of EU Parliament, Panzeri, Kaili and Giorgi is far from rigorous and contravened the rule of law. Such populist rhetoric thrives on the vilification of an enemy through contrived leaks on partisan and biased media–all in an attempt to evoke mass hysteria for manipulation of the public.
The general people long known to be far removed from the European Parliament representative preferred to live by “ignorance is bliss” . The mass remains susceptible to media angles biased through powers with an agenda. The media machine incessantly feeds such partisan plots in an attempt to sensitize people to a particular narrative–irrespective of how tenuous the narrative sounds when laid bare of its trappings. The general people were beguiled by the adventures of a judge and pointed their ire against the Eurocrats and harbored suspicions against the Qataris who had the access with diplomats of the European Union. The judge garnered much attention and claimed headlines through his preposterous mendacity and the public was ensnared into flawed narratives.
However, when the cases are unpacked–the lack of material evidence, rigor, and substance is revealed. The cases were solely aimed at manipulation of the police and judicial apparatus, and to ignite public rage.
Judges. However, the discretionary power entrusted to Justice is often contorted into arbitrary power. The rule of law was dismantled in Belgium, and the country and administration had been stripped of moral uprightness in counseling about transparency, corruption, and virtues.
Ethical rules of the EU institutions are not harmonized: members and staff of the Commission, the Parliament and the Council are bound by different ethics frameworks with different obligations and enforcement mechanisms.The neo-colonialist agenda of expanding Belgium’s judicial credibility is destined to face a cloudy future. Still, there are judges in Belgium that hold fast to the principles of fairness and justice. To establish itself as paradigmatic in the global judiciary, Belgium needs to rid itself of the unscrupulous elements of its judicial system.
The judicial proceedings of the EU Parliament scandal had laid bare the shaky grounds for judicial fairness in Belgium. This attacks the reputation of Qatar, an established energy partner to Europe and the wealthiest nation in the world. The Belgian debacle was doomed from the beginning, and was a contrived tale of political intrigue aimed at tainting the reputation of Qatar and Morocco, although medias were keen to produce another XGate episode.
A British correspondent based in Brussels, Jack Parrock, told ANT1, Greek broadcaster, that “the scandal is only one aspect of the corruption that may be endemic in the European Parliament.” Such machination is a cautionary tale for the stability and reputation of the judicial system in Belgium in future.